Just for Laughs: Britcom Gala

At the Toronto Just for Laughs Britcom gala, shirts were optional. Host John Cleese took to the stage in a drab dinner jacket and ugly tie, sans shirt – he lost it in the divorce. Welcome to “The John Cleese Humiliation Tour – anything for a laugh.” To save the $20 million, he considered a “boat accident” but refused to be grouped in with Phil Spector. Instead, Cleese produced “The Really Inconvenient Truth,” a montage of other things he could do with the divorce settlement, including: buy hundreds of Bowflexes, a tank, a U.S. election, 20 million things at a Dollarama and an endless supply of poutine. Then he introduced Mark Watson.

Within 24 hours of being in Toronto, Watson “rationally generalized” the whole nation as a people that think, “It might be shit, but let’s hope for the best.” He hoped this would work in his favour. Sharing a toothbrush is a popular topic amongst comedians, as a woman’s refusal to share something that goes in her mouth is hilarious. Watson’s extended anecdote was about kicking someone because of the sheer temptation from trying to convince yourself you shouldn’t do it.

Next up was Gina Yashere. She’s black and British; but she wonders if when her Nigerian mother was looking at the world, trying to find a new home she said, “I’m fed up with the sun. I want to go somewhere with drizzle and subtle racism.” Nonetheless, she likes to use the contrast of her accent and skin colour to confuse Americans – especially cops; they apologize for tailing her. She declares Somalian pirates are proof the economy is bad because black people have faced a fear of swimming and resorted to water-related crime.

Idiots of Ants made YouTube top lists with their skit, “Facebloke in real life,” which demonstrates what it would be like to act out the things we do on Facebook. Their first sketch was a Waldo book reading at Chapters – “There I am.” Next was the mandatory office hello and goodbye kiss, which is awkward to say the least. Then they closed by serenading a young woman from the audience, implying a night of sweet, group sex was on the horizon.

Cleese returned for the “John Cleese Telethon” because donation money is wasted on the poor and crippled; it should go to someone who will appreciate the money. As incentive, he said he would do anything in exchange for the money, such as act out favourite scenes from Monty Python. Unfortunately, the requests were more sadistic, such as having Cleese dig $10 out from underneath broken glass and, in Canadian tradition, tasering him.

Ross Noble is a consistent comedian, in that he returns to earlier jokes throughout his act. He made frequent comments about the scaffolding-style set design – “only the best for out-of-towners” – and the spirit of the house band that lurks behind the screen. He pointed out that before getting on a plane, he likes to marinate his own butt in case they crash and the other passengers have to eat him. Noble was all over the stage and blamed a chocolate Kinder high. He claimed that in Canada people are not surprised by a tiny toy in their confectionary; it’s just called a Kinder Egg, not a Kinder Surprise like in Europe.

Then came the straight-laced Jimmy Carr. His delivery of jokes is so proper, just his style is humorous. He said, “The courts wanted to move forward on female bishops, but bishops can only move diagonally.” He told a two-word joke that was unexpectedly hilarious and then expanded on it anyway. He then gave audiences a little inside, behind-the-scenes information: they feed chimpanzees peanut butter because as they try to eat, it looks like they’re talking – they do the same when making The Hills.

The final act of the night was Scotland’s-own Danny Bhoy. A wire shirt from London was causing some problems for him, particularly with stewardesses. Funnily, the flu that can be caught from swine has given the advantage to the Muslim world again. Bhoy then launched into a story about a car crash that had more interruptions than an airport. In the end, it was understood the other car’s music was comparable to a cat being sick (followed by an impression of a cat that was thrown out of the house just before it could be sick inside), the music of national anthems is enjoyable, and the post-crash confrontation made him cry-out like a child.

To end the evening, Cleese presented the last segment of his own version of The Bachelor. However, his rose recipient refused to sign a pre-nuptial agreement, as did either of the runner-ups. Luckily for Cleese, a transsexual from the audience was more than willing to sign the paper. They were married that same night on stage.

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